Should I Buy an e-Reader for College?

With roommates, classes, finances, and all the other potential sources of stress involved with college, textbooks are probably one of the last things on your mind. But for many students, the high cost and numerous choices surrounding college textbooks end up being a surprising source of woe. Forget spending a mere $100 on textbooks in any given semester; for many students, a typical semester’s textbook spend runs easily into the $200-$400 range.

A great solution for an increasing number of college students has been to purchase an e-Reader, but is an e-Reader a smart option for you?

Below you will find the most important basic facts (both benefits and drawbacks) about purchasing an e-Reader for college:

They’re convenient…

e-Readers certainly have textbooks beat in the battle of convenience. Whereas textbooks are heavy and classes often require you to carry more than one (taking up excessive space in your bags), e-Readers are compact and light. Better still, you might be able to ditch your binders, too, because not only will your e-Reader hold all of your textbooks, most are also capable of holding your word processor documents, .pdf files, and important emails. You can also highlight and make notes in the text just like in a physical book, and digital books are available for download almost instantaneously. Truly, e-Readers are the epitome of convenience compared to textbooks.

…But they could potentially leave you stranded.

college girl sitting on grass with laptopThe ability of e-Readers to carry all of your books and documents might be convenient, but keep in mind that it could potentially leave you stranded. Should your e-Reader break or should you forget to charge it, you could be left in class without any of your books or notes. Also, you’ll have to keep careful track of your e-Reader because it’s much easier to lose a six-inch electronic device than a pile of textbooks and binders.

They could help you save money…

e-Readers definitely have the ability to save you money on your textbooks. While renting traditional books is certainly a money-saving option, why bother with the inconvenience of transporting them and worrying about keeping them in impeccable condition when an e-Reader alleviates all of those concerns? And e-Reader books are just as cheap (if not cheaper) than rented books. As a testament to the low price of digital textbooks, speaking from personal experience, this writer saved over $175 dollars on one semester’s textbooks by purchasing them digitally- and that savings figure includes the $130 spent on initial purchase price for the e-Reader itself.

…But some textbooks won’t be available.

Unfortunately, the simple fact is that some of your textbooks won’t be available for digital purchase. The libraries for the most popular e-Readers are extensive, but truth be told, some professors do have a propensity for selecting rare or unpopular books- the type of books unlikely to be available digitally. Still, you could stand to gain so much from an e-Reader that the sacrifice of utilizing a “mixed” library with both digital e-Reader books and traditional books far outweighs the drawbacks.

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